Dysphagia Lusoria: Is the Dysmotility Connection Illusory or Real?

Michael Coles, Amol Sharma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Dysphagia lusoria is rare embryologic defect of the aortic arch vasculature characterized by an aberrant retro-esophageal course of the right subclavian artery (RSA), comprising a vascular sling. This may manifest clinically with symptoms of dysphagia or reflux. Given the rarity of this pathology, there remains uncertainty regarding the most effective treatment algorithm. Vascular decompression procedure surgery is often used to rectify the aberrant vascular morphology. However, a low percentage of aberrant arteries result in trachea-esophageal symptoms. As such, we suggest (1) one must exclude co-morbid esophageal motility disorders in patients with dysphagia; and (2) aberrant RSA may be a cause of dysphagia, so-called dysphagia lusoria, but represents an unlikely mechanism, since this morphological arrangement typically does not result in a highly constrictive, circumferential vascular ring. It follows, therefore, that directly addressing the esophageal motility issue should take precedence over complex and potentially noncurative vascular procedures directed to the aberrant RSA. However, the presence of marked aneursymal dilation of the aberrant RSA, and/or the presence of a bicarotid (socalled bovine) trunk, would favor vascular repair in the clinical decision-making due to the elevated risk of rupture and more severe esophageal compression in these specific situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)942-945
Number of pages4
JournalDigestive Diseases and Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • Aberrant right subclavian artery
  • Dysphagia lusoria
  • High resolution esophageal manometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Gastroenterology


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